Reality weight loss TV has positive affect on viewers


A new poll shows that popular television programs that feature people undergoing weight loss programs are an inspiration to many of their viewers. A significant portion of the audience for such programs actually makes changes to the diet and exercise habits as a result of watching them.

The poll, taken by Thomson Reuters, shows that about half of the Americans who watch the programs make healthy changes in the way the live their own lives.

Two programs cited as having a positive influence are “The Biggest Loser” and “I Used to be Fat.”

15% of those polled said they regularly watch such programs, and of that group, 57% say they have made dietary changes as a result, and 48% have changed exercise habits.

The numbers are much better among those who watch the programs and actually need to make changes. Among viewers who fall into the morbidly obese category, 72% make diet changes, and 73% make exercise changes.

Only a quarter of regular watchers who fall into the normal weight category change habits because of the program content.

“The obesity epidemic is a real problem for our country, and our survey suggests that television can be a big part in the solution,” said Raymond Fabius, MD, chief medical officer of the Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters. “As we’ve seen in effective health and wellness programs, witnessing the success of others increases engagement. Prime-time television shows have a unique power to get millions of viewers involved — particularly, as the survey shows, those with the greatest need.”

Faubus concluded, “At the same time, we know the real challenge with weight loss is sustaining it. I would encourage the networks to provide prizes a year or two later to celebrate and showcase success maintaining a healthy weight. Without sustainability there is no improvement of health outcomes.”

RBR-TVBR observation: When comparing the relative value of television programming genre, it sometimes seems that reality programming winds up in the empty calorie zone where pure escapist entertainment-oriented programs are assigned. However, this study shows that isn’t always the case. Congrats to the producers of programs that can provide entertainment with benefits to their audience.

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